Bill Barr: Mass declassification of documents by Trump would be worse abuse than taking them

Donald Trump’s former Attorney General Bill Barr said in a Fox News interview last week that if Trump did declassify the large number of classified documents that were found at his Mar-A-Lago residence, it would be a bigger abuse than taking the documents in the first place.

The classified documents taken “belong to the government” and need to go to the archives, Barr contended.

“I can’t think of a legitimate reason why they should have been could be taken out of the government, away from the government if they’re classified. I frankly am skeptical of this claim that ‘I declassified everything,’ you know,” Barr replied.

“Frankly, I think it’s highly improbable. And second, if, in fact, he sort of stood over scores of boxes, not really knowing what was in them, and said, ‘I hereby declassify everything in here’ — that would be such an abuse, and that shows such recklessness that it’s almost worse than taking the documents,” Barr said.

“Red herring”

“The whole idea of a special master is a bit of a red herring. The only documents that have been taken, it seems to me, that there’s a legitimate concern about keeping away from the government and insulating the government from, would be documents relating to his private lawyer communications, him as an individual and as outside lawyers,” Barr told host John Roberts.

“If there’s stuff like that, fine. Identify it. There doesn’t appear to be much of it. I’m not sure you need a special master to identify it,” he continued.

An independent special master was appointed on Monday to  “review the seized property, manage assertions of privilege and make recommendations thereon, and evaluate claims for return of property.”

Trump has expressed concern that the FBI took personal documents including tax records and hundreds that may be subject to executive or attorney-client privilege.

If they find anything incriminating, I’m sure it will be leaked in the near future.

Appeal expected

The government is expected to appeal the decision to appoint the master, arguing that any personal documents could simply be returned to Trump.

Barr seemed to agree.

If the documents the FBI took are privileged, though, it could still be a bad look for them or even taint any case against Trump they are trying to build.